19 April 2022
Mina Devi is boldly taking her second chance at education and working towards a brighter future.
Mina is from Muzaffarpur, Bihar in India and throughout her life has fought against patriarchal norms and gender-based discrimination.
‘People didn't want girls to study,’ says Mina. ‘They marry off the girls at a young age, thinking it would free them of the burden of having a daughter at home.’
Mina was married at 16 and a mother by 18, yet she always had a strong urge to study and a desire to continue her education.
Now, with the help of a local organization Mina has her opportunity.
UN Women’s Second Chance Education program is a partnership that began 4 years ago with the BHP Foundation, with both organizations committed to giving marginalized women access to opportunities that can help them thrive. Why? Because around the world 483 million women are illiterate, with many denied access to education due to barriers beyond their control, barriers they are often born into such as conflict, childhood marriage and extreme poverty.
Anna Parini, UN Women Program Manager for the Second Chance Education Program explains:
‘The general trend of gender disparity in education is persistent. The concern of young girls particularly in marginalized communities, is that once they reach adulthood the chances of accessing learning and training opportunities decrease dramatically.’
And when research shows that an educated woman invests 85% of her income back into her family or community, and her children are 4 times more likely to go to school – the positive impact of education can break the cycle of generational disadvantage.
There is a long way to go, but the good news is this program is showing significant progress.
Across six countries in which it is being piloted, including India, to date 86,643 marginalized women have participated in the program with 31,030 graduates and 27,815 starting to earn an income – over 15,000 of whom are earning through self-employment and entrepreneurship.
In India, to date 3,413 women, like Mina, have enrolled in skills training with 750 candidates placed in jobs, and 3,862 women and girls are now enrolled in formal education.
The impacts for everyone involved are life-changing and best articulated by Kanta Singh, UN Women India Deputy.
‘It is not a job for me, it is a life mission. I decided many years ago that everything I do will be for the women and the girls, to help them realise their dreams’.
Learn more about the Second Chance Education Program.